Guidelines for Learning : Using 3D Interactive Systems for Education and Training
Advanced 3D virtual environment technology, similar to that used by the film and computer games industry can allow educational developers to rapidly create realistic 3D, virtual environments. This technology has been used to generate a range of interactive learning environments across a broad spectrum of industries and educational application areas.
Virtual Reality (VR) simulators represent a powerful tool for learning and teaching. The idea is not new. Flight simulators have been used for decades to train pilots for both commercial and military aviation. These systems have advanced to a point that they are integral to both the design and the operation of modern aircraft [1, 2]. There are a number of lessons that can be learned from other industries that have successfully utilised virtual training and learning systems for a number of years. Generic rules of thumb regarding the specification, development, application and operation of these learning environments can be garnered from other industrial training systems and examined in an educational context [3, 4, 5].
This paper will introduce a virtual learning environment which has been developed by the authors. During the implementation of this, and other, visual learning environments a number of complex operational problems have been encountered, these have required a number of innovative solutions and management procedures to be developed.
The paper will also discuss the implementation of these systems and extrapolate the lessons learnt into general guidelines to be considered for the development of VR based educational learning resources. These guidelines will then be discussed in the context of the development of ViRILE (Virtual Reality Interactive Learning Environment). This software is designed for use by undergraduate chemical engineers and simulates the configuration and operation of a polymerisation plant.
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